The Shangri-Las

Leader of the Pack

Song Review by

"Leader of the Pack" is the quintessential girl group record, for better or worse. Teen melodrama at its most piquant, the song embraces so many hallmarks of the genre (rebel boyfriends, parental misdeeds, tearful goodbyes, even death) that it teeters on the verge of self-parody but pulls back from the brink on the strength of Shadow Morton's wonderfully cinematic production. Mary Weiss' tortured vocal relates the story of her ill-fated affair with bad-boy biker Jimmy, whom she first meets at the candy store; when her dad forces the teen lovers to break up, Jimmy speeds off into the rainy night, only to meet his maker moments later in a grisly highway wreck. In a stroke of shameless genius, Morton accentuates "Leader of the Pack"'s drama through a procession of revving engines, squealing tires, and crashing cars; clearly imagined as a vinyl counterpart to Rebel Without a Cause -- no coincidence that the misunderstood heartthrob's name is Jimmy -- it's star-crossed love at its most gloriously overwrought.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
No Image 197? Charly Records
Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound 1983
Various Artists
Motown 0:00
20 Party Classics 1986
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 2:53
60's Dance Party 1987
Various Artists
Madacy 2:53
Sock Hoppin' Sixties 1988
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels
No Image 1988
Various Artists
Pair
No Image 1989
Various Artists
Rhino
Golden Oldies, Vol. 9 [Original Sound 1989] 1989
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment
No Image 1990 Collectables
History of Rock: The 60s, Pt. 3 1990
Various Artists
Collectables 2:51
Oldies But Goodies: 21 #1 Hits 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:49
The Best of the Girl Groups, Vol. 1 1990
Various Artists
Rhino 2:54
History of Rock: The Rockin' 60's - WCBS FM 101 1991
Various Artists
2:53
The Red Bird Story [Charly 4-CD] 1991
Various Artists
Charly Records
Jukebox Giants: WCBS New York, Vol. 3 1992
Various Artists
Collectables 2:50
Super Box of Rock [1992] 1992
Various Artists
Dominion 2:48
The Sensational 60's, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 2:51
Dick Clark's 21 All-Time Hits, Vol. 2 1994
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:48
Leaders of the Pack: The Very Best of '60s Girl Groups [Alex] 1994
Various Artists
Polygram 2:51
No Image 1994
Various Artists
MGM
Favorite Party: Gold for the Road 1994
Various Artists
Compose Records / Peter Pan (ISP)
Myrmidons of Melodrama [RPM 136] 1994 RPM 2:52
The My Boyfriend's Back: The Story of the Girl Groups 1995
Various Artists
Life Times & Music 2:53
Born to Be Wild, Vol. 4 [Madacy] 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:51
American Jukebox Classics, Vol. 5: Girl Talk 1995
Various Artists
Sterling Gold 2:47
CBS-FM Oldies 93: History of Rock, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Collectables 2:52
The Best of Tragedy 1995
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 2:48
World's Greatest Love Songs [Prime Cuts] 1995
Various Artists
St. Clair / Prime Cuts 2:51
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Arsenal
#1 Hits of the Sixties 1995
Various Artists
Rebound Records / PSM 2:53
Best of Best Classic, Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
Black Tiger 2:51
Cruisin' with Rat Fink: Music of the 50's and 60's 1995
Various Artists
Nesak International 2:52
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings
Leading Ladies, Vol. 3 [Box Set] 1996
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:50
Sixties Groovy Hits [1996] 1996
Various Artists
St. Clair / Boxsets 2:48
Original Rock & Roll Classics 1996
Various Artists
Sun Record Company 2:57
The Best of the Shangri-Las [Mercury] 1996 Mercury 2:51
Four by Four, Vol. 3 1996
Various Artists
Stardust Records 2:52
Sixties Generation: 1965 1997
Various Artists
St. Clair / Retro Music 2:51
21 Winners: Jukebox Hits of the '60s [1997] 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:52
1960's Rock N Roll 1997
Various Artists
Madacy 2:48
Best Sellers of the 60's & 70's 1997
Various Artists
Best Music International 2:48
Hit Parade!: 54 Big Hits from the Best of the Hit Parade 1997
Various Artists
VMK
60's Flashback [Double Play] 1998
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:51
Greatest Hits of the 60's: 1964 1998
Various Artists
CMM Music 2:49
Very Best of Red Bird & Blue Cat Records 1998
Various Artists
Taragon Records 3:01
The Ultimate History of Rock & Roll Collection, Vol. 5: Girl Group Sound 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:51
Super Box of Rock [1998] 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:51
45's on CD, Vol. 1 (1962-1964) 1998
Various Artists
Rebound Records / PGD 2:53
Best Sellers of the 60's, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Wise Buy 2:48
Chart Toppers: Rock Hits of the 60s 1998 Priority Records 2:53
60's Greatest Rock & Roll Hits 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:52
60's Sock Hop 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:48
Ultimate Driving Collection: California 1998
Various Artists
Chronicles / Polygram 2:51
60's Girl Power 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:50
The Best of B-103: Long Island's Oldies 103.1 FM 1998
Various Artists
Mayhem 2:48
Wacky Favorites: Crazy Classics 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time / Life Music 2:53
60's Rock & Roll [Madacy 1998] 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Power Hits 2:48
The Best Sixties Album in the World...Ever! [1998] 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:50
Mods Vs. Rockers 1999
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:52
DJ Don's Party Mix: Party Time 1999
Various Artists
Power Records (Fitness / Dance) 2:51
The 60's, Vol. 3 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:54
Soundtrack Jams, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 2:51
Jammin' Oldies: Girls' Night Out 1999
Various Artists
Intercontinental Records 2:54
Rock & Roll Show [King] 1999
Various Artists
King 2:25
Hits of the 60's 1999 Spectrum Music 0:00
Greatest Hits of the 60's [Platinum] 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 0:00
Number 1 Hits 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:53
Hot Hits: Rock N' Roll of the 60's 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:51
The Girl's Sound: Fifty Hits 1957-1966 2000
Various Artists
Double Gold / Doubles (UK) 2:51
The Very Best of the Shangri Las 2000 Cleopatra 4:28
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 2:53
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 14 & 15 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:52
Sixties Generation: 1964-1965 2000
Various Artists
Boxsets 2:51
Teen Angel 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:52
Rock Revival: At the Hop 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:51
Soundtrack Jams 2000
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 2:51
Memorable Party Favorites 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:52
Back 2 Back: Shirelles & Shangri-Las 2000 Intercontinental Records 2:50
Groovy Hits of the Sixties 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:52
Women in Rock [Direct Source #1] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:52
No Image 2000 Metro
Last Kiss: Songs of Teen Tragedy 2000
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage 2:53
Forever Gold: The 60's Groovy Hits 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:48
Hits of the 60's [Green] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
Girl Group Greats 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:54
Goofy Greats 2001 K-Tel Distribution 2:48
Teenagers in Love [Golden Stars] 2001
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:51
Wolfman Jack's: Cruisin' Songs 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:52
Girl Group Sound: 25 All Time Greatest Hits From Red Bird Records 2001
Various Artists
Varese 2:59
American Bandstand 2001
Various Artists
Band Stand 2:48
Juke Box Jive [Dressed to Kill] 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:50
The Songmaker's Collection: Music from the Brill Building 2001
Various Artists
Q Records 2:51
A Decade in Sound 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 2:52
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:48
Swinging in the 60's 2001
Various Artists
Repertoire 2:49
Rock, Rhythm and Doo Wop, Vol. 1: The Greatest Songs from Early Rock 'n' Roll 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:51
All Music Guide: Roots of Rock 2001
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 2:56
Teenage Idols [CD #2] 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:48
Wolfman Jack's: Teen Idols!/Cruisin' Songs/Surfin' Toons 2002
Various Artists
Boxsets 2:52
Jukebox Hits 1964 [Madacy] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:49
Rock N' Roll Hits: Golden 1964 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:50
Funny Favorites 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:50
The Legends Collection: Rock 'n' Roll Teenagers 2002
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill / Legends Collection 2:50
Sixties: A Decade to Remember [3 CD] 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:49
History of Rock Box 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:22
1964: The Soundtrack 2003
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:51
Rock 'N' Roll Party Time 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:46
One Hit Wonders [K-Tel UK] 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:50
Pop Divas [Goldies Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 0:00
Happy Days of the 60s [2-CD] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:51
Rock & Roll: The First 50 Years - The Mid-'60s 2004
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varese 2:53
The Leader of the Pack [Synergy] 2004 Synergy Distribution 2:55
Smash Hits of the 60's 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:51
60's Groovy Hits 2005
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:52
Hot Rod Cruisin' Classics 2005
Various Artists
Legacy 2:50
Jukebox Goodies 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:52
Golden Legends: The Shangri-Las 2006 Madacy 2:52
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:48
One Hit Wonders [Horizon 2] 2006
Various Artists
Horizon / Horizon 2 2:47
Number 1's: '60s Pop 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:52
The Original 60's Box Set 2007
Various Artists
EMI 2:47
Top Of The Pops 1965 2007
Various Artists
BBC Music / EMI 2:50
Still Dead! The Grim Reaper's Jukebox 2008
Various Artists
Ace 2:58
No Image 2008
Various Artists
CMC Records 2:48
Shangri-Las 2009 Lilith 2:57
The Best Sixties Album in the World...Ever! [2009] 2009
Various Artists
EMI 2:49
Born to Be Wild: Tracks for Bikers 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution / Sony Music Entertainment 2:50
Ultimate Collection: 60s Classics [2014] 2014
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / Union Square Music / Universal 2:52
21 Super Golden Oldies
Various Artists
Bescol
60 #1 Pop Hits
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertainment 2:52
Hit Parade [Mercury]
Various Artists
Hits of the 60s [Delta]
Various Artists
Delta Music Group 2:49
No Image
Various Artists
Laurie
Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame, Vol. 5: Leader of the Pack
Various Artists
Legacy 2:53
Sixties Collection, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Going For A Song 2:51
No Image
Various Artists
Audio Fidelity
The 60's Collection
Various Artists
Going For A Song 2:51
The Dixie Cups Meet the Shangri-Las Charly Records
The Rebirth of the Sixties
Various Artists
Music Brokers 2:48